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Jansing and Co.

News/Business. Chris Jansing, Richard Lui. Anchor Chris Jansing discusses the day's important issues with informed guests. New.

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Libya 29, U.s. 25, America 18, Us 17, United States 13, Clinton 11, Cairo 10, Romney 9, Benghazi 8, Egypt 8, Chris Stevens 7, Israel 5, Obama 5, Chuck Todd 4, Chuck 4, Afghanistan 4, Iran 4, Tripoli 3, Stevens 3, New Libya 3,
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  MSNBC    Jansing and Co.    News/Business. Chris Jansing, Richard Lui. Anchor Chris  
   Jansing discusses the day's important issues with informed...  

    September 12, 2012
    10:00 - 10:59am EDT  

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the state department, the names of those that have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble. our hearts break over each one, and now because of this tragedy we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn. chris stevens fell in love with the middle east as a young peace corps volunteer teaching english in marocco. he won friends for america in distant places and made other's hopes his own. i asked chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition. he arrived on a cargo ship in
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the port of benghazi and began building relationships with libya's revolutionairies. he risked his life to stop a tyrant and gave his life trying to help build a better libya. the world needs more chris stevens. i spoke with his sister, ann, this morning, and told her that he will be remembered as a hero by many nations. sean smith was an air force veteran. he spent ten years as an information management officer in the state department. he was posted and was in libya on a brief temporary assignment. he was a husband to his wife, heather, to whom i spoke this morning, and he was a father to two young children, samantha and
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nathan. they will grow up being proud of the service their father gave to our country, service that took him to baghdad and finally to benghazi. the mission that drew chris and sean and their colleagues to libya is both noble and necessary. and we and the people of libya honor their memory by carrying it forward. this is not easy. today many americans are asking indeed, i asked myself, how could this happen? how could this happen in a country we helped liberate in a city we helped save from destruction? this question reflects just how
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complicated and at times how confounding the word can be. we must be clear-eyed even in our grief. this was an attack by a small and savage group. not the people or government of libya. everywhere chris and his team went in libya, in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were held as friends and partners, and when the attack came yesterday, libyans stood and fought to defend our post. some were wounded. libyans carried chris's body to the hospital, and they helped rescue and lead other americans to safety. last night when i spoke with the
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president of libya, he condemned the violence and pledged every effort to protect our people and pursue those responsible. the friendship between our countries born out of shared struggle will not be another casualty of this attack. a free and stable libya is still in america's interests, and security, and we will not turn our back on that. nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice. we are working closely with the authorities to move swiftly, and we are working to safeguard other american embassies and consulates and citizens. there will be more time later to reflect but today we have more work to do.
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there is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve. we are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those that carried out this assault. some have sought to justify this vicious behavior along with the protest that took place at our embassy in cairo yesterday as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. america's commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. but let me be clear. there is no justification for this. none. violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of god, the world would never know a true and lasting peace.
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it is especially difficult that this happened on september 11th. it's an anniversary that means a great deal to all americans. every year on that day we are reminded that our work is not yet finished, the job of putting an end to violent extremism and building a safe and stable world continues. but september 11th means even more than that. it's a day on which we remember thousands of american heroes. the bonds that connect all americans wherever we are on this earth, and the values that see us through every storm. and now it's a day on which we will remember sean, chris and their colleagues. may god bless them and may god
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bless the thousands of americans working in every corner of the world who make this country the greatest force for peace, prosperity, and progress, and a force that has always stood for human dignity, the greatest force the world has ever known. and may god continue to bless the united states of america. thank you. >> a somber u.s. secretary of state, hillary clinton, talking about thettack that killed four americans in benghazi, libya, including u.s. ambassador, chris stevens with a moving tribute to him and the others. she said this is an attack that should attack the conscience of people of all faiths around the world. we should tell you and we can take a live look at the white house right now. we are also waiting for a
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statement from president obama about the death of ambassador chris stevens in addition we are also going to be hearing from mitt romney a little later. let's go to our white house correspondent, chuck todd. >> i think we will hear similar words. but it's important that you did hear from secretary clinton first, and let me tell you why. thesediplomats. there are friends and donors in the safe countries in the safe allies, and then people like chris stevens who work under any administration, democrat or republican, and this was almost an attempt bisect clinton as a morale boost to the other career diplomats that are working in countries with large muslim populations, and we could see --
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and there's a heightened alert right now, where we could see more protests taking place, and there's a concern for safety of those. you can't describe sort of the state department family there, and the importance of secretary clinton speaking clearly to the diplomat folks, and they put their lives on the line and don't have weapons to fight back with. it's a stark reminder of how tough some of the jobs are for the career diplomats. >> i want to bring in robin wright, who is the u.s. foreign policy, and she was a friend of ambassador stevens. thank you for being with us and our condolences for the loss of your friend. >> thank you. >> i know you heard what secretary clinton had to say, and what else would you want us to know about the ambassador? >> chris was a tremendously important influence both in
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shaping u.s. and foreign policy but also in trying to reengage libya a. new libya, and change the relationship that had been frankly hostile. he was the best of the american diplomats. he knew the streets as well as the elites. he knew the language and culture and he got it. at this critical juncture in defining what succeeds some of the world's leading autocrats. he was helping the issues involved in a new constitution, to help them understand the rule of law, and to help them deal with the issues of development and how do you help them imemploy, many of the men who were in militias, and that are still in the cities, so he was
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still playing an important role. >> how does something like this happen? >> well, look, one of the great problems across the region, not just in libya and egypt, is the emergence of ultraconservative radicals and they represent a small segment of society but want many of the things that al qaeda did politically, and that's to take society back to the days of the founding of the faith in the seventh century. this film was inflammatory because of what it portrayed the profit mohammed doing. this ignited the passions played out among this political group, which, as i said, emerged in every country in the middle east. >> what is your major concern about where we go now from this and the impact of the killings and what it means for u.s. relations with the new government post moammar gadhafi in libya?
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>> in all of these countries, they need foreign investment and aid and guidance and a sense of commitment involvement by the outside world, particularly the united states. this is going to create the kind of tensions we saw particularly, for example, in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution in iran, the sense that there's a huge gap, a huge divide between islam and the west. remember that the american embassy was burned down in 1979, and there's an area of tension that unfortunately will be a factor in shaping american attitudes about involvement to aid in this region for years to come. >> last night, this internet video had just about 5,000 or 6,000 hits on it, and then within hours the american
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consequence hrut is ablaze and people are dead. the pictures we are seeing in front of us is the result. >> social media played an important role in the up risings in getting the message out, what was happening on the ground and what people wanted, and there's a downside. and that's the publication of this kind of scandalist and inflammatory film. this is nothing anything the united states can do about it. i think hillary clinton's words were right in that the united states is all about religious tolerance, and that's the message the u.s. will try to get across in the days to come. >> our deepest sympathies and it's a tremendous loss for the u.s. diplomatic corp, and so thank you for take the time to
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talk with us. >> thank you. let me bring back chuck todd. for people just joining us i want to set up the political implications of this and what happened overnight. first there was a statement issued by the u.s. embassy in egypt, which did condemn the aattacks, and the filmmaker. and that led to a statement from romney's campaign. it's disgraceful the obama administration's first response was not to condemn the attacks on the american missions but to sympathize with libya, and then another statement by the white house. now, we just got this statement, chuck, from the romney camp. a top romney campaign official tells nbc news it's standing by its statement from last night that criticized the obama
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administration. help us to put this back and forth in the correct political context. >> this is a larger argument that mitt romney is trying to make. he believes the obama administration has not been tough enough with the marginal allies of the united states, in particular. he has been critical on how libya was handled and been critical on how the syria situation has been handled. it fits in with a larger message push that romney has been doing. when you consider the moment in time when he did the release, we didn't know all the facts on the ground, the white house, by the way, on that statement, they don't stand behind the statement of the embassy in cairo, either. a white house official was careful to tell me they never approved that statement, and they were sympathetic as to why the embassy put out that statement. there was a hope that it would quell the violence in the moment
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and be enough to get the protesters to back off the embassy. they were thinking in the moment there. that said the white house has been careful to distance itself from that statement, too. but it was -- it was a little jarring to realize that the romney campaign jumped on it and overnight you see the developments and the statement itself does not look smart this morning. you are hearing from other republicans. i had a former senator sununu -- >> chuck, here comes mitt romney. excuse me. let's listen. >> good morning. americans woke up this morning with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corp was murdered across the world. this attack on the embassy is outrageous and disgusting and it breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served during their lives
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for the cause of freedom and justice and honor. we mourn their loss. and we join together in prayer that the spirit of the almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so pwrutly slain. j. christopher stevens, with these words i extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones who were left behind as a result of these who lost their lives in the service of our nation. and those across america are grateful for our service, and we mourned their sacrifice. america will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and our embassies. we will defend also our
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constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. we have confidence in our cause in america. we respect our constitution. we stand for the principles our constitution protects. we encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our constitution because we recognize these principles are the ultimate source of pfreedom for individuals around the world. the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing for those that breached our embassy in egypt instead of condemning their actions. it's never too early for the united states to condemn attacks on americans, and to defend our values. the white house distanced itself last night from the statement saying it was not cleared by washington. that reflects the mixed signals they are sending to the world. the attacks in libya underscore
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the world remains a dangerous place and american leadership is still sorely needed. in the face of this violence america cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. american leadership is necessary to assure the events cannot spin out of control. we cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region for those that share our values and interests. over the last several years we stood witness to an arab spring that presents the opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region. it also has the potential of peril. we must strive to insure that the arab spring does not become an arab winter. with that i am happy to take any questions you may have. steve? >> reporter: [ inaudible ]. >> the embassy in cairo put out
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a statement after their grounds had been preached and protesters were inside the grounds and they reiterated that statement after the breach. i think it's -- i think it's a terrible course for america to stand in apology for our values, instead when our grounds are being attacked and breached that the first response of the united states must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation, and an apology for america's values is never the right course. >> reporter: do you think in coming so soon after the events unfolded overnight was appropriate to be weighing in as the crisis is unfolding in real time? >> the white house also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from the comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. i had the same exact reaction.
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these views were inappropriate and they were the wrong course to take when our embassy has been breached by protesters. the first response should not be we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech. >> reporter: what did the white house do wrong -- >> their administration spoke. the president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also the words that come from his ambassadors and white house and state department, and they clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration, the statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to an apology and i think was a severe miscalculation. >> reporter: talking about mixed
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signals, when you criticize the administration -- [ inaudible ]. >> we have a campaign for presidency in the united states and they are speaking about the different courses we would each take with regards to the challenges the world faces. the president and i have differences of opinion with regards to israel and our policies there and with regards to iran and with regards to afghanistan and syria. we have many places of distinction and differences. we join together in the condemnation of attacks on american embassies and the loss of american life and joined in the sympathy for these people, and it's important for me just as it was for the white house, by the way, to say that the statements were inappropriate, and in my view, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for american values. >> reporter: some people said you jumped the gun a little inputting the statement out last night and you should have waited until more details were available. do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all the
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things that were happening? >> i don't think that we ever hesitate when we see something that is a violation of our principles. we express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something, which is inconsistent with the principles of america. simply put, having an embough sea that is has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, and having that embassy reiterate a statement apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration. >> if you had known last night that the ambassador died, and i am gathering you did not know -- >> that came later. >> reporter: if you had known that the -- >> i am not going to take hypotheticals. we responded last night to the events that happened in egypt. >> reporter: [ inaudible ].
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>> i think president obama has demonstrated a lack of clarity as to the foreign policy. my foreign policy has three fundamental branches. first, confidence in our cause. a recognition that the principles america was based upon is not something we apologize for. we stand for those principles. the second is clarity in our purpose, which is that when we have a foreign policy objective we describe it honestly and clearly to the american people, to congress and to the people of the world. and number three, is resolve in our might? in those rare circumstances, those rare circumstances where we decide it's essential for us to apply military might that we do so with overwhelming force, and that we do so in the clarity of a mission, understanding the nature of the u.s. interests involved, and understanding when
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the mission would be complete, what would be left when it is -- what would be left behind us when that mission has been terminated. these elements, i believe, are essential to the foreign policy and i have not seen them from the president. as i watched over the past 3 1/2 years, the president has successes, he had failures, and it's a hit or miss approach, but it has not been based upon sound, foreign policy. >> reporter: how specifically, governor romney -- [ inaudibl ] [ inaudible ]. >> i spoke out when the key fact that i referred to was known, which was the embassy of the united states issued to appear to be what was an apology for american principles, that was a mistake. i believe when a mistake was made of that significance, you speak out. thank you. >> republican presidential
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candidate mitt romney with strongly worded criticism of barack obama in the aftermath of that attack on u.s. citizens at the consulate in benghazi, where one ambassador was killed and three others died as well. he said it was a disgraceful statement brought by the embassy in egypt. so i can be clear about what happened, in the aftermath there was a statement issued by the u.s. embassy in egypt that did call this attack an unjustified breach but went on to seemingly criticize the u.s. filmmaker that put out the film, the video, on the internet that caused this attack, or at least, you know, provoked it, condemning the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of muslims.
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you just heard mitt romney say that was the u.s. government apologizing for the freedom of speech. >> there was three elements. one was a dignified acknowledgment of the loss of the ambassador, and two he offered no analysis of how we go forward, and the third he got into tactical politics. i thought what he said was undignified and unpersuasive. what they decided to do in the romney campaign is take a vicious assault and turn it into what could be a political advantage. we defend free speech and promote religious tolerance. the romney campaign is trying to dredge this up in policy. it's beneath governor romney to be doing this particularly when
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there should at least be a moment of silence acknowledging the loss of our wonderful career diploma diplomats. >> one of the criticisms you just heard from romney is this sends mixed signals, because the white house said they did not approve the statement and were backing off from the statement, and do you think these kinds of statements coming in the midst of the hotly contested political campaign sends mixed signals? >> he is trying to politicize a tragic event and it's for political advantage in the romney campaign. i think people can figure that out. secretary clinton was eloquent. this was a vicious attack, and career diplomats were killed, and the ambassador himself was somebody on the street and
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committing his life. this is a political moment in a campaign where the romney folks are trying to exploit this for their own advantage. they were unpersuasive in their case and undignified in their approach. >> thank you so much for being with us. chuck, i was just handed a statement that u.s. officials tell nbc news the marines are preparing to send as many as 200 marines to libya to bolster security around the u.s. embassy. we cannot ignore the security issues at play here or the political emphrau indications. there was always a possibility that some world event would happen that would suddenly come up. >> let's remember, you know, the
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arab spring is -- we don't know how this is going to end. and that was something that you heard from governor romney. it's part of the debate he wants to have with president obama which is specifically the handling of the arab spring. the question is what would mitt romney had done differently and would he not have helped ease mubarak out of power, and there is second guessing on that specific issue for instance. you are going to see it for a few days, and think about the picture we are seeing right now. governor romney having that press conference, sort of a -- we are getting a preview, a split screen preview, because we will hear from the president in a few minutes on this attack and his statement on this. a little bit of a slit screen preview of what a foreign policy will look like between these two. i was surprised that governor romney went ahead and delved into the political debate as
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deeply as he did, given the picture we are about to see in 4 1/2 minutes, which is the president in the rose garden as commander in chief of what just happened. it's a risky move i think on mitt romney's part? >> i want to remind people as we look at the split screen of chuck and the white house that we will hear from the president shortly. we already heard from secretary of state, hillary clinton. let me play you a little bit of that. >> let me be clear. there is no justification for this. none. violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. >> i want to bring in usa today's chief, and david, let me start with you. to chuck's point, maybe risky, at a time when four americans
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are dead, mitt romney coming out so quickly to be so critical. is it possible it could be viewed as overly political? is this a misstep? >> it could be. what struck me about governor romney's statement it seemed to mix the tactical questions that the embassy in cairo was involved with yesterday, balancing the free speech right and still saying there is some speech that we find intolerant, and making sure the u.s. government didn't intaoendure w was in those videos. and he had three points, one was that he believed that he needed to -- the president needed to stand for american principles, and second was that he needed to be more clear, and the third was
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resolve in our military might. those may all well be issues worth debating, and certainly they have been widely debated. but do any of them apply to the tactical decisions that were made by a pretty experienced ambassador in cairo last night, and what happened on the ground, this awful tragedy in libya. it sounded to me that the timing was sort of the bigger problem of how he did this. >> susan, he was also very forceful in the use of words. he called the statement disgraceful. he said apologizing several times for a basic american right of free speech -- outrageous, disgusting attack, and seemed to use similar terminology to describe the white house's response to it. >> yes, i was surprised. traditionally you would have had a much lower key statement of national grief for the loss of
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these diplomats who served us in dangerous places abroad, and then the argument about the u.s. foreign policy, and president obama's stewart ship of that. i think it's a calculation on his part that he -- that the st stewardship of obama, if it's something he wants to criticize and make it an issue in the campaign, maybe it will work. but it's possible the words on the issue will become the issue rather than the stewardship. >> the president is facing a diplomatic crisis. what do you think the biggest concern for the white house is diplomatically?
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>> i think the biggest concern is as the arab spring spread, the same thing could happen with these attacks in the embassies. the trick right now is to keep them from going viral. i think that was probably the motivating factor of the statement that was issued in the embassy in cairo yesterday, to try and keep this from spreading the way the arab spring did. this is going to be a problem throughout the arab spring events as they unfold. in each of these countries, you have a group that wants to reintegrate with the world and focus on markets and focus on prosperity, and focus on good governor nuns, and then you have a group that sees an opportunity to have a strong islamic government and these events are the kinds of things that they promote. and in every country, the u.s. is going to be playing offense and defense at the same time. it's going to require a lot of diplomatic subtlety.
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>> there are things out of their control, susan, and we were talking about this earlier, and you have obviously the role of social media in the arab spring. it was so critical in the protests that overturned many dictators. on the other hand, it was the same social media and the internet that led to the crisis. it's not something that the administration or any administration can control or has figured out how to get a handle on. >> talk about things outside the administration's control. what about the brewing crisis we see with iran and israel, which is also in the headlines this morning. you know, we have -- we talked mostly about the economy in this election, but foreign policy is center stage, at least for the moment, and it could become a bigger issue, the kind of issue we didn't expect and this is why it's dangerous to make predictions about political campaigns because things happen in the nation and in the world that you just can't foresee. >> i think it's important that we put it in the broader context and we are waiting for the
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president to come out and talk about the inner related problem with israel right now. chuck, give us the background on the phone call between netanyahu and the president. >> well, when netanyahu, of course, we have the u.n. general assembly opens in a couple weeks as it does annual, and the government was wondering where his invitation was with the one-on-one with obama, and the question was did they ask for one. the white house was trying to say they would not be in new york of the same day, because when netanyahu would be there versus when the president would be there, and then there was a phone call last night, and they spoke for an hour, and talking about all of their issues that have concern of the moment, and iran is being first and
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foremost, and netanyahu was very critical of secretary clinton for saying what she said about who draws red lines on when to attack iran militarily. after the white house put out a readout of the phone call saying, hey, by the way, on the dust up of this meeting, there was no official requests for the meeting by the israeli government, and the israeli government still believing they should have gotten an invite, and while they did not officially ask for one, they are surprised that they did not get one. and it's worth noting netanyahu was getting opposition from leaders at home saying why are you inserting yourself in the american presidential election like this? it's a dicey local situation, for the president in florida and netanyahu as well. >> is there any doubt in your mind that netanyahu is trying to
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insert himself or influence the u.s. election or trying to force the president to somehow commit to attack iran under certain conditions? >> look at this from prime minister netanyahu's viewpoint. he has 57 days of leverage over president obama between now and the election to draw together some commitments about how far they will let the iranian program go. after election day, if president obama is re-elected, that leverage is gone in a few months. if romney comes in, they have concerned as well because it will take a year, year and a half to get his feet on the ground and understand the dimensions of what is there. in this case the case of red lines is a strange one to bring
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up. the u.s. and israel together have set red lines together in the past, and the iranians have gone passed every one of them with fairly few sanctions. and so i think at this point the prime minister is doing this to get a verbal commitment from the president, and what that would mean to the iranians, it's up in the air. >> let me go back to the immediate reaction by the white house after the attack on the consulate in libya that killed four americans including the u.s. ambassador. immediately there was a stepping up of security at installations at consulates around the world, and now we just reported that more marines will be sent into libya. >> u.s. officials are telling us that 200 additional marines, who are now stationed with an
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amphibious ready group will be sent from that amphibious ready group to tripoli. they are called fast teams. they are fast anti-terrorism security teams that are deployed around the world, prepared to respond at a moment's notice. now, in addition to those forces, additional forces going to tripoli, u.s. officials are also looking at the possibility of sending similar fast teams, and maybe in smaller numbers and maybe above the numbers to places like cairo and kabul, and there have been sectarian flare ups and violent deadly demonstrations against americans in those countries in the past. >> how quickly was this response? how quickly can they feasibly step up securities around c consulates and other installations around the world?
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>> they are poised and ready to go at a moment's notice, and it should not take long and they are in the region. decisions have to be made on exactly how many and where they go. 200 marines is what we are hearing are headed to tripoli in very short order. >> we think we saw hillary clinton through the door there as we are waiting for the president to come out in the rose garden and a short time ago, of course, she made her statement and obviously condemned the attacks and made a very impassioned speech about the lives that were lost, particularly that of the ambassador. again, four americans killed in that attack on the u.s. consulate in libya. the president of the united states and secretary of state. let's listen in. >> good morning. every day all across the world
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american diplomats and civilians work tirely to advance our nation. often they are away from their families and sometimes they brave great danger. yesterday four of these extraordinary americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in been tkpwau s benghazi. we are still notifying the families of the others that were killed. today the american people stand united in holding the families of the four americans in our thoughts and in our prayers. the united states condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. we are working with the government of libya to secure our diplomats and i directed my administration to increase our security around the world.
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make no mistake. we will work with the libyan government to bring to justice those that attacked our government. since our founding, we reject all efforts to deny owe great the beliefs of others, but there is no justification to this type of senseless violence. none. the world must stand together to reject these brutal acts. already many libyans joined us in doing so and the attack will not break the bonds between the united states and libya. libya personnel fought back and libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried stevens' body to the hospital where we learned he
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died. at the height of the libyan revolution, chris led our diplomatic post in benghazi with skill, courage and resolve, he built partnerships with revolutionairies and helped them as they planned to build a new libya. when the gadhafi regime came to an end, chris was there to serve as an ambassador to the new libya, and he worked tirelessly to support the young democracy, and i think both secretary clinton and i relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there. he was a role model to all who worked with him. and to the young diplomats that aspired to work in his footsteps. along with his colleagues, chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war, and today the loss of these four americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.
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i have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those that love them back home. of course yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks and we mourned with the families who were lost on that day, and i visited the graves of the troops that made the ultimate sacrifice of iraq and afghanistan and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at walter reed. last night we learned the news of this attack in benghazi. in some cases, americans lay down their lives for the country
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and the country is only strong as the character of our people and the service of those civilians and military who represent us over the globe. no attacks will alter that character or clips the light of the values we stand for. today we mourn for more americans that represent the very best of the united states of america. we will not waiver in our commitment to see that justice is done for the terrible act and make no mistake justice will be done. but we also know the lives these americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers. these four americans stood up for freedom. and human dignity. they should give every american great pride in the country that they served. and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.
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we grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger america and a better world for all of our children. thank you, and may god bless the memory of those we lost and may god bless the united states of america. >> reporter: was this an act of war? >> president obama with secretary of state, hillary clinton, condemning the attacks in benghazi. chuck todd, let me bring you back in. i think it's worth remembering in both president obama and hillary clinton talks about there are many places in the world that are dangerous postings, and it's been since 1979 in afghanistan since a u.s. ambassador was killed abroad. >> yeah, that was the war between the soviet union in afghanistan.
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i think a couple things stood out on the president's remarks, and it was toward the end that jumped out at me that said justice will be done, and the question is what does justice look like? what is it that -- he made it very clear the united states still stands with the libyan government. he did not address the situation in cairo, and did not address the other situations as much. i will be honest. i think his statement on libya opens up more questions than what does it mean with the relationship with egypt given that we have not heard from the egyptian government on what happened there. and again define justice will be done. is it something we will rely on the libyan government to do in a test of their democracy. >> there are many statements coming out from senate leadership. >> one comes up that says they
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are looking to insure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. >> it's going to be a test of the libyan government. again, you know, they are just -- it's -- i think it was very interesting there. you had the president basically stand by the libyan government and you heard secretary clinton talk about what libyan troops tried to help ambassador stevens and resuscitate him for a couple hours. there's an attempt of separating out the radicals that did this in libya and the libyan government itself. you take that and all of those statements, and the silence on what is going on in egypt and cairo, which of course centered around the political back and forth that we have seen with mitt romney, but what does that mean given the silence on the egyptian government? >> you mention the political
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back and forth. it was a short time ago that we heard from mitt romney. let me play you a little bit of his critique of the administration's response to the attack. >> the attacks in libya and egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that american leadership is still sorely needed. in the face of this violence, america cannot shriek from the responsibility to lead. american leadership is necessary to insure that events in the region don't spin out of control. >> senator kerry, one of the people releasing a statement, and of course he gave an impassioned defense of president obama at the convention, and at the end of his statement just a short time ago he said this is one of those moments when americans must unite as americans. it's exactly the wrong time to throw political punches. it's a time to restore calm and proceed wisely, but the political punches are flying fast and furious? >> yes, the romney campaign is
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getting mixed advice. there are some saying he should be more aggressive against the president on the issue of foreign policy, that they believe that there is ground to be won here, if you will, politically, on for instance the management of the arab spring going forward, dealings with israel and iran and syria. and there are others, and we heard them go public a few hours ago saying, wait a minute, this is not the time. have that debate, but did you pick the wrong time. is this sort of when you did it, having this press conference that he had, which was a fairly testy press conference just a few minutes before the president gives a statement in the rose garden that doesn't have politics at the forefront. >> these are two lines of criticism we heard from the republicans, one is leadership and being tougher, and the other is the recent push, in part i am sure brought on by the criticism from the democrats that he has a
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lot of his own criticism but short on specifics. we heard that again in this statement from him. he had harsh things to say about the president but nothing to say about how he would do things differently. >> i have asked him this very question in an interview, would you have helped pushed mubarak out? he did not want to answer that question. and that's his challenge. it's the challenge of any challenger against any incumbent, and at the same time when you are asked for clarity of what is your vision, what is it when it comes to the arab spring? how do you both promote democracy and american values when democracy is part of the american values but at the same time if you don't like what they choose, if it's the muslim brotherhood in charge of egypt, then what do you do? and how do you -- how do you clarify that and correlate that
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with american values? frankly, that's a challenge for both candidates. again, i go to a question, the managing editor of "time" magazine, he said the question should be how do you win the arab street. the president when he was a candidate said he would give that first foreign speech and speak to the muslim world and given to the harsh attacks, he has not won over the arab street. bush tried it. what will he do differently that will win over the arab street. >> here you have an ambassador that went first to libya to help the rebels. he was widely regarded very well by the rebels. he was admired by the rebels for the help he had given them, and because of the relationship in part that he developed is why secretary of state asked him to become ambassador there earlier
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this year. and so of all people, it shows you the difficulty and complications. one of the things hillary clinton said is we have to investigate the motivation and the methods and right now none of that is clear. >> knno, it's not. it goes to the fact that there are radicals in both libya -- we now know what happened. some were trying to incite violence and basically trying to cherry pick some obscure hateful internet video and somehow ascribe it to the feelings of the entire united states, and, you know, how do you deal with that? how does the government -- how does the libyan government deal with that? how does the egyptian government deal with this? it seems as if that president is more worried about his domestic politics rather than what these radicals have done to american citizens in cairo.
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>> i want to bring in peter alexander who is with the romney campaign in florida. talk to us about this decision. they issued the statement very quickly peter and stood by it with very harsh language a short time ago. >> reporter: chris, you are exactly right. he doubled down on that statement that the romney campaign put out late yesterday evening responding to the statement initially put out in a tweet. the romney campaign insists the tweet sent out and as a result their statement and reply was sent out after the unrest had already begun to take place. there is questions about whether or not mitt romney jumped the gun by addressing this series of events in political terms. he referred to the events of the loss of four american lives overseas as outrageous and disgusting and he said america will not tolerate attacks against our citizens, and throughout the course of his
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statements, they were laced with politics. he accused the president of putting out mixed messages, and he said when the embassy speaks, the embassy speaks for the president, and in addition to that, he said the president has provided a lack of clarity in foreign policy. chris, as we should know, right now behind us, mitt romney taking pictures and shaking hands with some of the folks here in jacksonville, a campaign event that was organized late yesterday and was just as quickly cancelled. mitt romney attacked the president for apologizing for america and conservatives across the country were calling on romney to attack the president and make it clear and concise terms the president has mishandled foreign policy and the president, in their language, has been weak. >> is it clear how much of this
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has been influenced in the latest polls, the president is pulling ahead, put this into that context, peter. >> reporter: it's a good question. it was late yesterday before we had information about the events as they were unfolding overseas this event was put together quickly in jacksonville, and the narrative started to grow that romney had not been campaigning enough. we flew nine hours for one event, a speech he made before the national guard association in reno, nevada. the campaign insists the statement he made today was not about politics and the statement they made last night was not about politics or specifically about the polls. it was about creating in their eyes, a separation, a contrast between them and president obama. >> peter alexander, traveling with mitt romney. thank you very much. chuck todd, our chief white house correspondent, thanks to you as well. we want to tell you that capital
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flags will be lowered to half staff to honor ambassador chris stevens and the other three american staffers that were killed in an attack at the c consulate in libya setting off a political crisis. that's going to do it for skwrapus. as americans, let us never forget our freedom is sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases lay down their lives for it. good morning, everybody. i am thomas roberts. minute by minute, breaking news developments about the tragic deaths overseas taking center stage. this morning, president obama speaking moments ago, condemning the mob attack that killed u.s. ambassador, chris stevens in libya, and three other